India's Rahul Gandhi accuses PM Modi of favoring Adani Group
India’s top opposition leader Rahul Gandhi on Saturday launched a scathing attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and said he was being targeted because he has raised serious questions about Modi's relationship with the Indian business conglomerate Adani Group. Gandhi said the objective of his expulsion from Parliament on Friday was to prevent him from speaking in the legislature about his allegation of an infusion of an unaccounted $3 billion into shell companies owned by the Adani Group, headed by Gautam Adani. ’’Some of these defense companies are working in drone and missile development and ordnance production. Why is the defense ministry not asking questions,” he said. Also Read: Indian opposition leader Rahul Gandhi loses Parliament seat Gandhi was expelled from Parliament a day after a court convicted him of defamation and sentenced him to two years in prison for mocking the surname Modi in an election speech. The actions against Gandhi, the great-grandson of India’s first prime minister, were widely condemned by opponents of Modi as the latest assaults against democracy and free speech by a ruling government seeking to crush dissent. Removing Gandhi from politics delivered a major blow to the opposition party he led ahead of next year’s national elections. Gandhi said he was not bothered about losing his seat in Parliament. "My job is to defend the institutions of the country and the voice of people," he added. Also Read: 'Modi Surname' defamation case: Rahul Gandhi sentenced to 2 years in jail A court in the western Indian city of Surat also sentenced him to two years in prison on Thursday. But he won’t go to jail immediately as the court granted bail for 30 days to file an appeal against the verdict. The court convicted Gandhi for a 2019 speech in which he asked, “Why do all thieves have Modi as their surname?” Gandhi then referred to three well-known and unrelated Modis in the speech: a fugitive Indian diamond tycoon, a cricket executive banned from the Indian Premier League tournament and the prime minister. On Saturday, Gandhi didn't indicate how soon his legal team will approach an appeals court seeking to overturn his conviction so he could save his seat in Parliament. He accused Modi of helping the Adani Group to get contracts in India, Sri Lanka, and Australia. Also Read: Test transmission of power supply from Adani plant to Bangladesh's national grid starts He also alleged that a Chinese national was involved in investments in Adani's shell companies. “Why nobody is asking the question who this Chinese national is,” he said. ”Nobody knows where this money has come from. Adani couldn't generate this money." Gandhi has demanded a parliamentary committee probe following a report by Hindenburg Research, the U.S. financial research firm, accusing the Adani Group of stock price manipulation and fraud running into billions of dollars. The Adani Group has denied any wrongdoing and the Modi government has not accepted a call for a parliamentary investigation. Also Read: India’s Supreme Court orders investigation of Adani business group Soon after Gandhi's news conference, Ravi Shankar Prasad, a top leader of Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party, rejected Gandhi's accusations and said his disqualification from Parliament had nothing to do with the Adani Group controversy. Since Modi became prime minister in 2014, Adani’s net worth has shot up nearly 2,000% to $125 billion, according to Bloomberg’s Billionaire Index. He surpassed Amazon boss Jeff Bezos to briefly become the world’s second richest man in September after a surge in the value of his seven listed entities. Also Read: Top policymakers briefed about outcome of meeting with Adani on coal pricing: Sources Adani’s businesses have won multibillion-dollar contracts to build ports, highways and power plants. The industrialist’s ambitions include developing drones and ammunition, key to the government’s goal of boosting military-related exports to $5 billion while slashing costs for expensive imports.
'Modi Surname' defamation case: Rahul Gandhi sentenced to 2 years in jail
A court in Gujarat's Surat today (March 23, 2023) found Indian Congress party leader Rahul Gandhi guilty, and sentenced him to two years in prison in a 2019 defamation case -- over his remarks on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's surname. Gandhi was granted bail, however, and his sentence was suspended for 30 days to allow him to appeal the verdict, reports NDTV. Purnesh Modi, a BJP MLA and former Gujarat minister, filed the lawsuit against Gandhi for saying, "How come all thieves have the surname Modi?" He made the remark while speaking at a rally in Kolar, Karnataka, ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, targeting PM Modi because of his surname, which he shares with fugitive financiers Nirav Modi and Lalit Modi, said the report. Read More: Hasina, Modi inaugurate ‘Indo-Bangla Friendship Pipeline’ to boost energy cooperation The Congress leader quoted Mahatma Gandhi in his first response following the judgement, tweeting in Hindi, "My religion is based on truth and non-violence. Truth is my God, non-violence the means to get it." Gandhi arrived in Surat earlier in the day for the verdict and was greeted by key Congress leaders from Gujarat. Posters glorifying him as 'Sher-e-Hindustan' (Lion of India) and banners saying that the "Congress will not bow before the dictatorship of the BJP" were displayed at various spots all over town as a show of strength and support for him. After his conviction, Rahul Gandhi received rare support from Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief Arvind Kejriwal, who tweeted that he "disagreed" with the judgement. Read More: Tax officials search BBC's Delhi offices weeks after Modi documentary "A conspiracy is being hatched to eliminate non-BJP leaders and parties by prosecuting them. We have differences with the Congress, but it is not right to implicate Rahul Gandhi in a defamation case like this. It is the job of the public and the opposition to ask questions. We respect the court but disagree with the decision," Kejriwal wrote. Rahul Gandhi had last appeared in the case before the Surat court in October 2021 to record his statement.
Hasina, Modi inaugurate ‘Indo-Bangla Friendship Pipeline’ to boost energy cooperation
A 131.57-kilometre cross-border 'Indo-Bangla Friendship Pipeline' was inaugurated on Saturday as part of cooperation in energy sector between the two neighbouring countries through which Bangladesh will import petroleum products, especially diesel from India. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Indian counterpart Prime Minister Narendra Modi formally inaugurated the newly built pipeline. Hasina was connected from her official residence Ganabhaban while Modi was connected from his office in New Delhi. Of the pipeline, 126.57 kilometres are in Bangladesh while the remaining 5 kilometres have been installed in India. The BPC, the state agency under the Energy and Mineral Resources Division, has been implementing the project under a 15-year deal with India to annually import 250,000 tonnes to 400,000 tonnes of diesel from the neighbouring country through the cross-border pipeline. The deal was signed in 2017 following the approval of the Cabinet Economic Affairs Committee on August 23. Bangladesh annually needs to import 6.6 million tonnes to 7.7 million tonnes of diesel to meet its demand. According to official documents, the whole consignment of petroleum will come through the cross-border pipeline from India's Numaligarh refinery, located in Golaghat in north-eastern Indian state of Assam, while Bangladesh will receive it at Parbatipur petroleum fuel depot in the north-western district of Dinajpur. Read more: Bangladesh-India Friendship Pipeline to vastly improve transport of diesel: New Delhi Official sources said though most part of the proposed pipeline is to be laid in the Bangladesh part, the Indian government has provided about Rs 303 crore as a loan under Indian line of credit (LOC) to build the Bangladesh portion. Bangladesh will operate the pipeline in its part while India will operate the pipeline in its portion. The documents also reveal that Bangladesh will annually import 250,000 tonnes in the first three years, 300,000 tonnes annually in the 4th to 6th years, 350,000 tonnes annually in the 7th to 10th years and 400,000 tonnes annually from the 11th to 15th year. Currently, Bangladesh has been importing 22,000 tonnes of diesel per month using railway wagons. The deal could be extended for a further period of time. Such petroleum imports from India through cross-border pipelines will help create a stock of petroleum in the northern region to meet the growing demands in that part of the country. Indian Ministry of External Affairs on Friday said that the operation of the Bangladesh-India Friendship Pipeline will put in place a sustainable, reliable, cost-effective and environment-friendly mode of transporting fuels from India to Bangladesh. It will further enhance cooperation in energy security between the two countries. This is the first cross-border energy pipeline between India and Bangladesh, built at an estimated cost of Rs 377 crore, of which the Bangladesh portion of the pipeline built at a cost of approximately Rs 285 crore, has been borne by the government of India under grant assistance. The Pipeline has a capacity to transport 1 million tonnes per annum of High-Speed Diesel (HSD). It will supply HSD initially to seven districts in northern Bangladesh.
Tax officials search BBC's Delhi offices weeks after Modi documentary
Officials from India’s Income Tax department began conducting searches Tuesday (February 14, 2023) at the BBC’s offices in the capital, New Delhi, three of the broadcaster’s staff members told the Associated Press. The search comes weeks after the British broadcaster released a controversial documentary that examined Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s role during the 2002 anti-Muslim riots. Teams from the tax department surveyed the BBC's Delhi and Mumbai offices, the Press Trust of India news agency reported, quoting officials who were not identified. Also Read: BBC film on India's PM Modi, 2002 riots draws government ire India banned the two-part documentary “India: The Modi Question” last month and authorities scrambled to halt screenings of the program and restrict clips of it on social media in a move that critics and political opponents decried as an assault on press freedom. India’s Foreign Ministry called the documentary a “propaganda piece designed to push a particularly discredited narrative” that lacked objectivity.” The BBC in a statement had said the documentary was “rigorously researched” and involved a wide range of voices and opinions. Read More: Sexual harassment, misconduct went on unchecked at Al Jazeera, staff allege: BBC investigation “We offered the Indian Government a right to reply to the matters raised in the series — it declined to respond,” the statement said.
Hasina, Modi direct officials to start CEPA negotiations this year
Bangladesh and India have agreed to start negotiations within this year – for signing the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA). Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi directed trade officials on both sides to complete the negotiations of CEPA at the earliest and in time for Bangladesh’s graduation from LDC status. The two leaders welcomed the recent finalization of a joint feasibility study which recommended that CEPA will be beneficial for both countries, according to the joint statement issued today (September 7, 2022). Read: Indian investors can set up industries in Bangladesh through buy-back arrangement: PM Modi on Tuesday said Bangladesh is India’s largest development partner and their largest trade partner in the region. “Today, India is the largest market in Asia for Bangladesh’s exports. To further accelerate this growth, we will soon start discussions on the bilateral Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement,” he said. With the expansion of connectivity between the two countries, and the development of trade infrastructure on the border, the two economies will be able to connect more with each other, support each other, Modi said, adding that their bilateral trade is growing rapidly. Read: Dhaka to list Indian Oil as G2G supplier of refined petroleum products During Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s state visit to Bangladesh from March 26 to 27 last year, both sides discussed the prospects of entering into a CEPA. To enhance trade between the two countries, both Prime Ministers underscored the need for removal of non-tariff barriers. President of India-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IBCCI), Abdul Matlub Ahmad, has said the CEPA will be a win-win for both the countries. Read CEPA to be win-win for both countries: IBCCI President Reiterating the importance of facilitating trade between the two countries, Hasina and Modi stressed the urgent need for upgradation of infrastructure and facilities at the land customs stations, and for removal of port restrictions and other non-tariff barriers, according to the joint statement. The Indian side reiterated its request for at least one major land port without port restrictions or negative list of restrictions, on the border with northeast India, for easier market access, starting with ICP Agartala-Akhaura. Both leaders welcomed the progress made on India’s proposal to fund the development of a second freight gate at Petrapole-Benapole ICP and directed the officials to complete the work at the earliest. Read Stakeholders urge for inclusion of a proposal in CEPA for setting up joint testing laboratory
Talks underway with Bangladesh on connecting power transmission lines: Modi
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi today (September 6, 2022) said rising energy prices are presently posing a challenge to all developing countries and fruitful talks between Bangladesh and India are underway on connecting power transmission lines. “The unveiling of the first unit of Maitree Thermal Power Plant today will increase the availability of affordable electricity in Bangladesh,” he said after his “extensive discussions” with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on bilateral, regional and international issues. The Indian PM said his country is the largest market in Asia for Bangladesh's exports and to further accelerate this growth, they will soon start discussions on the bilateral Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA). Read: Hasina, Modi jointly unveil Rampal Power Plant’s unit 1 The Indian PM said he had a “fruitful conversation” with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on enhancing cooperation in relation to flood mitigation. He said India has been sharing flood-related data with Bangladesh on a real-time basis and they have also extended the period of data sharing. There are 54 rivers that pass through the Indo-Bangladesh borders, and have been linked to the livelihood of the people of the two countries for centuries. Read: Dhaka, Delhi sign 7 MoUs; unveil projects “These rivers, folk tales about them, folk songs, have also been witness to our shared cultural heritage. Today, we have signed an important agreement on sharing water of the Kushiyara river. This will benefit southern Assam in India and Sylhet region in Bangladesh,” Modi said. In realizing the vision of a stable, prosperous and progressive Bangladesh that Bangabandhu had seen, Modi said, India will continue to walk step by step with Bangladesh. “Our conversation today was also an excellent opportunity to reiterate this core commitment.” “Today, we also stressed on cooperation against terrorism and radicalism. To keep the spirit of 1971 alive, it is also very important that we fight together against such forces, which want to attack our mutual trust,” he added. Read “Differences can be resolved through dialogue, Bangladesh-India do precisely that” Modi said Bangladesh has made remarkable progress under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. In the last few years, he said, their mutual cooperation has also increased rapidly in every field. “Today, Bangladesh is India's largest development partner and our largest trade partner in the region.” Modi said their close cultural and people-to-people relations have also steadily grown. He said they both believe that by taking lessons from the COVID pandemic and recent global developments, they need to make the economies stronger. Read Cargo vessel carrying Indian transit container arrives in Chattogram port “We also decided to increase cooperation in sectors like IT, space and nuclear energy, which are of interest to our younger generations. We will also continue to cooperate on climate change and on preserving a common heritage like the Sundarbans,” Modi said. He said the inauguration of the railway bridge over the Rupsha River is a remarkable step towards enhancing connectivity. This bridge is an important part of the new railway line being built between Khulna and Mongla Port under India's Line of Credit. Modi said India will continue to extend all support for the development and expansion of Bangladesh's railway system. Read Dhaka to list Indian Oil as G2G supplier of refined petroleum products
Hasina, Modi jointly unveil Rampal Power Plant’s unit 1
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi today (September 6, 2022) jointly unveiled unit 1 of Maitree Super Thermal Power Project in Bagerhat’s Rampal. Constructed under India’s concessional financing scheme, the project will add 1320 MW to Bangladesh’s national grid. Earlier, Hasina and Modi witnessed signing of seven bilateral instruments after holding talks at Hyderabad House in India’s capital city. Read Chinese-Bangladeshi consortium, BPDB to sign deal for Mongla wind power plant The first unit of the Maitree Super Thermal Power Plant will go into commercial operation early October, in a major stride in growing Bangladesh-India power sector cooperation, an official told UNB. Unit 1 of the 1320 (2x660) MW coal-fired power plant in Rampal was successfully synchronized with the national grid on August 15. Once both units are commissioned, Rampal power plant will be one of the largest in Bangladesh, Subhash Chandra Pandey, project director of Bangladesh-India Friendship Power Company (Pvt.) Limited, told UNB. Read Deal signed to set up waste-based power plant in Narayanganj Unit 2 of the power plant, also known as Rampal coal-fired power project, is expected to be commissioned early next year, he said. Rampal power plant is being set up at a cost of approximately US$ 2 billion and is located in the Bagerhat district of Khulna division, said an official describing the project features in detail. It is being built by Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) for the Bangladesh-India Friendship Power Company Private Ltd. (BIFPCL), a 50:50 joint venture company between India's National Thermal Power Company (NTPC) Ltd and Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB), said the officials. Read Inner containment construction of Nuke power plant (Unit-2) starts The project director said the Rampal power plant is being set up with super critical technology to actively mitigate environmental impact. Construction of an advanced ship un-loader for coal as well as a fully covered coal stock yard, along with use of high grade imported coal with low Ash and Sulphur content, among other measures, are in place, he said. On April 6, the 400 kV GIS switchyard and interconnecting transformer of the Rampal power plant was energized. Read A private producer to set up a 3 MW hybrid power plant at Monpura
PM Hasina accorded warm reception by Modi at Delhi’s Rashtrapati Bhavan
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, currently in New Delhi on a four-day official visit to India, was accorded a warm ceremonial reception by her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi at the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhavan. On her arrival at the presidential palace around 9:15 am (local time), the Bangladesh prime minister was received by Modi. A horse mounted team of the president’s bodyguards escorted her motorcade from the Rashtrapati Bhavan gate to the forecourt. Also read: PM Hasina gets red carpet welcome on arrival in New Delhi Later, Hasina was given a guard of honour by a smartly turned out contingent drawn from three services of the Indian Armed Forces. The national anthems of two countries were played at the time. PM Hasina then inspected the guard and received salute. Then the Indian prime minister introduced his cabinet colleagues to Sheikh Hasina at the presentation line. The Bangladesh prime minister also introduced her entourage members to Modi. Bangladesh’s Liberation War Affairs Minister AKM Mozammel Haque, Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi, Railways Minister M Nurul Islam Sujan, PM’s Economic Affairs Adviser Dr Mashiur Rahman, Private Industries and Investment Adviser Salman Fazlur Rahman, State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md. Shahriar Alam, State Minister for ICT Division Zunaid Ahmed Palak, State Minister for Water Resources Zaheed Farooque and other members of her entourage were present. Also read: PM takes in sights and sounds of Old Delhi's Nizamuddin on day 1
Modi congratulates next British PM Liz Truss
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday congratulated Liz Truss after she was named Britain's next Premier. "Congratulations @trussliz for being chosen to be the next PM of the UK," Modi tweeted, an hour after Truss triumphed Indian-origin Rishi Sunak in the internal leadership race of Britain's ruling Conservative Party. "Confident that under your leadership, the India-UK Comprehensive Strategic Partnership will be further strengthened. Wish you the very best for your new role and responsibilities," the Prime Minister wrote. Also read: PM Hasina greets new UK Tory leader Lizz Truss Truss will be the third woman to occupy the highest executive post in the UK after Margaret Thatcher and Theresa May. "We need to show that we will deliver over the next two years. I will deliver a bold plan to cut taxes and grow our economy," Truss said, after she was declared the winner. Also read: Liz Truss: UK's incoming PM who models herself on Iron Lady Thatcher "I will deliver on the energy crisis, dealing with people's energy bills, but also dealing with the long-term issues we have on energy supply," she added.
Hasina, Modi likely to inaugurate Maitree Power Project in Sept 1st week
The 1320mw Maitree Super Thermal Power Station is expected to be inaugurated during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s three-day visit to India in the first week of September. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina together with her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi will jointly inaugurate the power plant, reports The Hindustan Times on Sunday. While PM Hasina is expected to visit India any time between September 5 and 7 and stay for two to three days, the visit has been accorded utmost importance by the Modi government as Dhaka happens to be one of India’s closest allies. Read: 12th bi-annual CSO meeting: Foreign secretary highlights implementation of IORDA-DDI Considered to be Bangladesh’s largest power plant, the coal-fired station is being set up by Bangladesh India Friendship Power Company Limited, a 50:50 joint venture between India’s NTPC and Bangladesh Power Development Board. The project is worth US$ 1.5 billion. Meanwhile, trial runs between Kolkata-Chattogram-Mongla ports for India Bangladesh trade will begin posting a new chapter in the bilateral ties. The first vessel from Kolkata is expected to reach Mongla, on Pashur River, on August 5 carrying 16 tons of iron pipes in a container with destination Meghalaya using the Tamabil-Dwaki border points and 8.5 tons of pre-foam in another container for Assam using the Birbirbazaar-Srimantpur border points. This exercise will create cheaper and alternative routes for India to reach its North-East region while at the same time carrying export-import containers for Bangladesh.